Your Letters: Music-Inspired Battles And Recoveries

Host Audie Cornish shares listeners' comments on last week's program, including a rival for the first music video and the power of music to help those suffering from Alzheimer's.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now time for your letters. We begin with an apology, especially to our northernmost listeners.

Last week, we heard about the resolve of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Fairbanks, Alaska, brought to us by reporter Dan Bross of member station KUAC. Not, KUOC, as I incorrectly stated.

And a bit of a kerfuffle over our story about the first ever music video, at least as identified by the music archivists group, The Speek. They pegged The Big Bopper as the first music video star with a 1958 performance of "Chantilly Lace."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHANTILLY LACE")

THE BIG BOPPER: Hello, baby. Yeah, this is The Big Bopper speaking...

CORNISH: Nick Spark of Los Angeles, heartily disagreed with their choice. No, this certainly is not the first music video and not by a long shot, he writes.

Spark goes on: For over a decade, prior to The Big Bopper's recordings, companies produced and released short films known as Soundies. Often very elaborate and featuring sets, stock footage and props, these short films were also placed in a special jukebox equipped with a movie projector inside. For a few coins invested, you could actually see and hear the video.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A ZOOT SUIT")

BILL EILLIOTT SWING ORCHESTRA: (Singing) I want a zoot suit. I want the reet pleat with the drape shape, and a stuff cuff to look sharp enough to see my Sunday gal...

CORNISH: Well, we did want to get our history straight. So we called up the guys at The Speek again. They're the ones who anointed The Big Bopper the music video pioneer.

STUART SAMUELS: I'm Stuart Samuels, director of programming and production for The Speek.

CORNISH: Samuels concedes the Soundies came first. But, he says...

SAMUELS: Its distribution system was local, didn't have a national footprint. But it was like a video jukebox and it never went beyond that.

CORNISH: Samuels said The Speek defines the first music video by its intentions to be widely spread on TV. The Big Bopper, in a magazine article, said...

SAMUELS: Music will be films. That's the headline. This was the concept, how do you promote your records. Not, in a niche market how to sell videos on demand?

CORNISH: And finally a letter from Kathleen Flynn of Arvada, Colorado, after hearing our story of a German cellist with severe amnesia. Researchers found the cellist appeared to retain some ability to remember and learn new music.

Flynn writes: My brother is suffering from Alzheimer's. At this stage, he has lost eye/hand coordination and can no longer feed himself. And he apparently does not recognize family members. He and I often enjoyed listening to classical music together. I played a CD of Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" for him. As soon as the overture began, he kept time to the music by waving his hand like a conductor. For those few minutes he got some pleasure and it was heartwarming to see.

Well, whether we're heartwarming or gut-wrenching, we want to hear from you. Go to NPR.org and click on Contact Us. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at nprweekend.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: